True Stories: Gay Memories – Going To A Gay Bar For The First Time #LGBTQI #LGBT

As a gay man, you may be surprised to hear that one of the biggest hurdles I faced was going into a gay bar for the first time.

Image showing rain on windscreen of a car on a Saturday night with blurry lights in the distance
True Stories – Going To A Gay Bar For The First Time

At 17-years-old, I was in awe of my straight mates. They’d been wandering into bars and nightclubs for the last year with the only threat of getting asked for age identification.

At 17-years-old, my straight mates were not only getting drunk most Friday and Saturday nights but were boasting about sleeping around with members of the opposite sex without any worry. Whether they’d slept with many of those they mentioned was open to debate.

At 17-years-old, it was against the law for me to sleep with a person of the same sex. If I boasted about it, I could get myself into trouble. The law stated that, for my safety, sex remained on hold until I reached 21.

Of course, I overlooked that particular part of the law. Like any red-blooded male at 17, my hormones made my brain think of little else but wanting to (putting it mildly) get laid.

By the time I reached my 19th birthday, I already had what I had considered a boyfriend. He was over the age of 21 and thought I was too.

On one particular, wet Saturday evening, I found myself sitting in my boyfriend’s car. Holding hands with him, we listened to the patter of the rain on the roof as we watched the raindrops splatter on the windscreen. For weeks, we’d both built up the courage to go to a gay bar for the first time.

The bar was out of town and miles from where we lived. However, neither of us wanted to get out of the car and walk up the steps to the bar. Instead, we both sat there trying our best to peer through the spattering of rain, trying to make out the figures going into the bar.

“It’s nice and warm in here,” I said.

“Yeah, too wet to go outside,” responded my boyfriend.

For the next half an hour, we made an excuse after an excuse as to why we should stay in the car. Even though curiosity ran through our minds of what was on the other side of the doors to the gay bar, our bodies remained fixed to seats while we continued peering at figures entering and exiting the bar.

“What if we bump into somebody in there who recognises us?” asked my boyfriend. “If there’s somebody in there from work, I could end up getting beaten up or sacked.”

Not only did those words cut me in half, but I began to worry that if the police raided the bar, my boyfriend and I would be in serious trouble because of my age.

Although at 19-years-old, it wasn’t against the law for me to go into a bar, I questioned if it was against the law for me to hold hands with another man in a public place.

Terrified of the consequences of entering a world where people would have welcomed and accepted us for who we were, we drove off and went home. Hiding who we were and how we lived our lives seemed a much safer option.

It would be months later when I talked about that night again.

“If somebody you worked with had been in that bar, wouldn’t they have been as terrified as we were at being spotted?” I asked.

“I never thought of that,” came the reply. “But it’s still a risk, isn’t it?”

Six years later, as I made my way on a coach to a new life, I left behind a boyfriend who had been secretly sleeping with another man he worked with.

Have you ever been terrified to do something or go somewhere for the first time? Please share the details in the comments section or, even better, contact me about submitting your story as a guest post.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…

True Stories: Gay Memories – The Day My Life Changed #LGBTQI #LGBT

It was a Saturday like any other Saturday, but this one was the day my life changed forever.

A true story from Hugh.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How A Comment Left On One Of My Posts Got Me Questioning A Previous Life

Do You believe in life after death? What about life before life? Have you ever written yourself into a piece of fiction without knowing it?

Check out my latest post, ‘How To Write Yourself into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It‘, on my column, Diversity with a Twist, at the Carrot Ranch. Find out how a comment left on one of my blog posts got me asking questions if I’d lived before and witnessed one of the biggest disasters of the Twentieth century.

Click the image below to read the post.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background
Diversity with a Twist

Many readers have already left comments, some of whom have shared glimpses of former lives.

Comments are closed here. If you’d like to join the discussion, please leave your comment on the original post.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Confessions Of A Holiday Let – A True Story And Guest Post By Judith Barrow @judithbarrow77

I’m delighted to welcome Judith Barrow to my blog today, who shares a true story about the perils of holiday letting an apartment.

Having read some of Judith’s other stories of holiday letting, there’s always a humorous side to them which I believe would not only make a fanatics book, but a television comedy show.

Confessions of a Holiday Let – A true story by Judith Barrow

Will Judith’s story have you laughing as much as I did when I read it?

***

For many years we summer let the apartment which is attached to our house.

We had many visitors from other countries staying in our apartment and shared great times with them.

Couples from the USA, Australia enjoyed barbeques on the lawn; long boozy evenings of wine and slightly burned kebabs and steaks, of tall tales and laughter.

Visits to restaurants with people from France and Italy. Long walks and talks on the coastal paths with a couple from New Zealand that we’d met from there on holiday in Christchurch, followed by drinks in local pubs.

We had a German man stay with us for three weeks who’d come to participate in the Iron Man Wales event. He’d worked hard for twelve months, he told us and had to acclimatise himself to the course. Three days before the event, he caught a chest infection and had to drop out. Despite his anti-biotics, he still needed to join Husband in a double whisky that night.

Oh dear, I’m sensing a common theme here.

This is the story of our last visitor for the season one year.

He was a single man. We’ve had people come on holiday alone many times over the years and thought nothing of it. When he arrived, we quickly realised he could only speak a little English, and we couldn’t speak his language at all.

He hadn’t been in the apartment before he came to the door brandishing an empty bottle of washing up liquid.

“Oh, sorry,” I said, “I thought there was plenty in it.”

“Used it.”

An hour later, washing powder was asked for by a demonstration of vigorous scrubbing at a pair of underpants.

“There’s a box of it under the sink.”

“Used it.”

Sunday brought him to the door twice. First, with the sugar bowl.

“Used it.”

Then the salt cellar.

“I thought I’d filled it—”

“Used it.”

‘Used it’ quickly became the watchword whenever we supplied tea bags, vinegar or handing over shoe polish.

Monday, he arrived with an empty tube of glue.

“Sorry, we don’t supply glue.”

He stands, smiling, waggling the tube. “Used it.”

Husband went into his Man Drawer and produced a tube of Super Glue. Scowling. We never found out what the man wanted it for, even though Husband examined everything he could that would need to be stuck the following weekend.

Each day, at least once, the man came to the door to ask for something by waving the empty bottle, carton, container or label at us. Unlike most holidaymakers, he didn’t knock on the back door but always came round to ring the doorbell at the front. In the end, Husband and I would peer through the hall window.

“It’s Mr Used It,” one of us would say. “It’s your turn to go.” Pushing at one another. “You see what he wants this time.”

On Wednesday, he arrived with a cardboard roll.

“There are six more toilet rolls in the bathroom cabinet to the right of the hand basin,” I offered helpfully.

“Used it.”

Seven rolls of toilet paper usually last a couple the whole week. I handed over four more.

“What’s happening in there,” Husband grumbled, “do-it-yourself colonic irrigation?”

On Friday, Husband produced a list. “We should charge for this lot,” he declared. “See?”

It read like a shopping list: milk/salt/sugar/vinegar/butter/tea bags/ coffee/soap/soap powder/toilet paper/shampoo/glue/shoe polish.

“Really?” I said, even though I knew the chap had been a pest. “You’ve been keeping tabs on our guest?”

“Too true.” The husband was indignant. “We could even charge him for overuse of the battery in the doorbell.”

“Except that it’s connected to the electricity.”

“Even worse!” Husband grumped off to his shed.

Saturday morning came, and the doorbell rang. Smiling, the man put his suitcase down onto the ground and, vigorously, shook hands with both of us. He waved towards the apartment.

“Used it,” he said. “Very nice.”

***

Judith Barrow

About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow is originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, in the UK. She now lives with her husband and family in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where she has lived for over forty years.

Judith has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. She also has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

She has written all her life and has had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. She only started to seriously write novels after having breast cancer twenty years ago.

When not writing or teaching, she enjoys doing research for her writing, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline and reading and reviewing books.

Connect with Judith

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Honno Welsh Women’s Press

Amazon

Judith’s Latest Book – The Heart Stone

The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow

1914 – and everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her true feelings for her childhood friend, Arthur. Then just as they are travelling home from this rare treat, war is declared.

Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals’ Regiment. Jessie’s widowed mother is so frightened of the future, she agrees to marry the vicious Amos Morgan, making Jessie’s home an unsafe place for her.

Before he leaves, Arthur and Jessie admit their feelings and promise to wait for each other. Arthur gives Jessie a heart-shaped stone to remember him. But with Arthur far away, their love leaves Jessie with a secret that will see her thrown from her home and terribly abused when she can hide the truth no longer. Faced with a desperate choice between love and safety, Jessie must fight for survival, whatever the cost.

Click on the book cover to buy The Heart Stone

More Books from Judith

Saga of the Howard family
The Memory

Click on the book covers to buy Judith’s books.

My thanks to Judith for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Judith, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Watch Out For The Matador! – A True Story And Guest Post By Sally Cronin @sgc58

I’m delighted to welcome Sally Cronin to my blog today, sharing a true story that had me laughing all day after I read it. It bought back many happy memories of a similar nature for me, especially some of the parts I played in school plays and amateur dramatics.

Watch Out For The Matador – A True Story by Sally Cronin

Many of you will know Sally from her successful blog where she is constantly helping to promote the works of bloggers, authors and writers alike.

Will Sally’s story have you as staged-struck and laughing in the aisles as I was after reading it?


My two sisters who were ten and eleven years older than I was, both trained as secretaries, which led to them having some interesting and high level jobs over the years.

However, I decided at an early age that I wanted to be a singer and actress! The desire to follow this career path was my mother’s fault really. Apart from the fact that she had a bit of a flair for the dramatic, she manipulated me into being her co-conspirator every Saturday afternoon.

My father loved football, and after he had cooked us one of his Spaghetti Bolognese lunches, followed by steamed treacle duff as he called them, we would retire to the lounge where our television took pride of place. I would have been about seven or eight at the time and my mother would coerce me into facilitating her viewing pleasure; the Saturday afternoon musical on BBC2.

Of course this conflicted with the afternoon football offering by Grandstand on BBC1. Fortunately my father had a weakness. Stoked up with carbohydrates and sugars from lunch, within 10 minutes of the match starting, he would be stretched out in his recliner, snoring.

In the good old days it was necessary to get up and down to switch channels, and this is where I came in.

As soon as my father began snoring, my mother would nudge me, and I would creep across the carpet to turn the channel over to BBC2 and the Saturday musical. Things did get a little hectic at times if there was a temporary change to my father’s breathing. At a shove from my mother, I would leap up from the sofa, dash across the room and switch channels back to the football. My father would watch blearily for about five minutes then resume his afternoon nap.

This would happen several times during the course of the movie, and as the final credits scrolled up the screen, I would turn the channel back over to BBC 1. My father would wake up to enjoy the cup of tea my mother had made, convinced he had watched 90 minutes of fancy footwork, but not the kind we had been watching.

This Saturday afternoon ritual fuelled my love of dancing and singing. My heart and soul burned to be the lead, dancing and singing my way through the performances like Ginger Rogers, Esther Williams (yes I would have done synchronised swimming if called for) Deborah Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor etc.

I had seen South Pacific at age ten and I would have even taken the role of Bloody Mary given half the chance. I knew all the lyrics from all the popular musicals of the day and wept buckets as John Kerr lip synched to “Younger than Springtime”; and I could perform all the songs from the Sound of Music.

Over the next few years I was lucky enough to be cast in a number of school plays. Being tall for my age, it usually involved me standing completely still for thirty minutes in the guise of a tree or some other inanimate object.

I did attempt to achieve some form of recognition for my talents, which included dressing in Swiss costume and dragging one of my friends around to old people’s homes to entertain the residents with the songs from The Sound of Music (they were very appreciative, let me tell you!).

This did not impress my parents, who were adamant that when I left school, I must train as a secretary, as drama was not a profession to be relied on.

Sally – aged 16

I left school in September 1969 at age 16 and enrolled in technical college for a year’s secretarial course. Over the course of the next twelve months, I became very proficient in shorthand and typing, but it was the extra classes we took in English that I enjoyed the most.

Our teacher also taught drama, and had trained more than a few successful actors and actresses over the years. To my delight, she was casting for that year’s drama production which was the operetta “Passion Flower”, based on the story of Carmen, but adapted for the amateur stage.

Without informing my parents I auditioned. I was rather expecting to be cast as part of the scenery again, but you can imagine my absolute thrill when our producer chose me to play Micaela – Carmen’s rival for the matador’s affections. Something that I kept from my parents, and they assumed I would be part of the chorus as usual.

Police cadets did their initial training at the college, and several of these were roped in to play the soldiers. Our producer recruited outside talent from her drama group to play the leads including an Australian dentist in his mid-thirties who took on the role of the matador, Escamillo, and a wonderful young singer called Julie took the part of Carmen.

The performances ran for three nights, and by the final evening I had almost conquered my nerves, despite the fact there were two very important people in the audience. I had persuaded my parents to come on the last night, with the expectation that it was likely to be the most flawless performance of the three.

I was desperately hoping that if they saw how passionate I was about acting (and my talent); they might relent in their objections to me attending drama school.

I can still remember standing in the wings that night, knees quaking as I prepared for the cat fight with Carmen, followed by being manhandled by the soldiers as they pulled us apart enthusiastically.

All was going very well until we reached the final scene when Escamillo threw a rose onto poor dead Carmen’s body, having been stabbed by a former lover, and then pulled me into his arms for a passionate kiss!

Unbeknownst to the rest of the cast, our lead actor had been celebrating the end to the run by consuming a number of cans of beer hidden in the wings. This certainly gave his performance some extra gusto which our producer put down to exuberance. As I swanned across the stage and into his arms for the expected stage kiss, he bent me over backwards and gave me a hearty smacker, before picking me up and rushing off stage.

Cue a very loud gasp from the cast clustered around poor Carmen’s corpse and from the front row where my mother and father were seated with other VIP guests. I can only assume they had already been taken aback by my starring role as a floozy, in an off the shoulder blouse, big earrings and a penchant for men in uniform.

I also had an inkling that these last few minutes had not gone down well. My erstwhile suitor and I joined the cast and clasped hands, bowing in appreciation of the applause. All I could focus on was my father, arms crossed with a very frosty look on his face.

My mother told me later that my father had turned to her and shouted over the applause, ‘Who is that man and what was he up to with our daughter?”  At this point, a woman who was sat next to my mother announced furiously ‘That would be my husband.”

As you can imagine, this fiasco did not further my ambitions to be allowed to attend drama school. Two weeks later, when I had graduated with my secretarial diploma, the evening paper’s employment section was strategically placed next to my beans on toast for supper. Probably for the best, as I have enjoyed a wonderful variety of jobs across a number of industries including broadcasting.

However, my love of musicals has never diminished, and who knows… maybe one day!

***

#books #authors #author
Author, writer and blogger, Sally Cronin

About Sally Cronin

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, Sally wrote and published her first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about her weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 13 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

Sally’s aim was to create a watering hole on her blog to provide a wide number of topics to chat about…..This year in September 2021, Smorgasbord in its current format, celebrated its 8th anniversary.

As important as her own promotion is, Sally believes it’s important to support others within our community. She offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog, linked to social media.

Having lived a nomadic existence most of her life, Sally is now settled on the coast of Wexford in Southern Ireland with her husband of 40 years, enjoying the odd sunny day and the rain that puts the Emerald in the Isles.

Connect with Sally

Blog

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Sally’s Latest Book – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet

Life is like a bowl of cherries

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.

The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.

Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.

Click here to buy Sally’s latest book

More books from Sally

More books from Sally

My thanks to Sally for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Sally, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

If It Feels Right, Can It Be Wrong? – A True Story And Guest Post by Liesbet Collaert @LiesbetCollaert

Continuing my series of true stories, I’m delighted to welcome Liesbet Collaert, who shares her story of how life changed the direction she was travelling.

If it feels right, can it be wrong?

Although Liesbet leads a different life to me (read and follow her blog to find out more) her true story is one I gasped at even though I’ve had similar experiences. It makes me believe in fate even more and why we find ourselves in certain situations for a real purpose.

Will her story bring back memories of a familiar position when you read it? Has fate played a part in your life?

***

Liesbet and Caesar arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco. A fascinating city I only know from movies and guidebooks. So close now! I can almost see the Golden Gate Bridge, smell the salty air of the bay, and feel the breeze in my light brown hair. The promise of a new adventure causes my ear-to-ear grin as I hop into our small camper to grab a CD of dEUS, my favorite Belgian band.

After crisscrossing the United States, Western Canada, and Alaska in our truck camper for the last year and a half, my boyfriend Karl, his dog Caesar, and I landed in California. Karl’s friend Nik, a DJ, had invited us to share his studio-apartment in Oakland, as a base to explore SF. Nik also rents out two apartments in his house.

CD in hand, I enter the yard again and stop dead in my tracks. Two gorgeous dogs with fluffy tails had run up to me. I smother them with cuddles and praise.

“Hi, I’m Mark. And these two are Kali, the white one, and Darwin, the grey one.”

Liesbet with Kali and Darwin

I look up from admiring the wagging furballs.

My eyes meet those of a tall, skinny, short-haired, and attractive man in the doorway of apartment #1.

“Hello. I’m Liesbet. My boyfriend and I are staying with Nik for a week to visit San Francisco. Our home on wheels is parked in front of the house.”

“Home on wheels? Why are you living in a camper?”

“It lets us travel around with our own bathroom and kitchen and plenty of storage and provides much more comfort and security than dingy hostels and a backpack,” I tell him with an unfaltering smile and raised voice; telltales of the excitement I always feel when elaborating on my pursuit of freedom.

“I detect an accent. Where are you from?” he asks, after I had described a handful of places I visited while backpacking for almost two years on the other side of the world.

“I’m from Belgium, but I haven’t been back in a while.”

Mark seems entranced, which encourages me to ramble on about my passion. After some time of telling stories and trading questions and answers, he exclaims, “That’s incredible! I need to travel and find myself a Belgian girlfriend!”

I blush. It dawns on me that we’d been chatting for a while.

“Do you know what time it is?” I ask. An hour has passed. I rush to Nik’s place next door.

“Where have you been?” Karl asks.

“Talking to a neighbor, the one with the big dogs. He seems like a nice guy.” I hand my CD to Nik, who is always eager to discover new music.

Our planned week in the Rockridge area of Oakland turns into four, as all of us become friends and Mark unintentionally draws me closer and closer. Karl encourages my contact with the neighbor. “Soon we’ll be out of here and it’s just you and me again,” he says. “Enjoy the company!”

I embrace Mark’s presence until I crave it.

One night, the Hollywood-moment arrives… our first kiss. An arm around my shoulders. A fluttering body. Touching of lips. Mutual desire. He loves me back!

We never allow anything more to happen. Mark is a realist. He knows I am leaving Nik’s place shortly and that I am in a serious relationship.

Our dreadful last evening together eventually arrives. We hug strongly and kiss tenderly.

“I’ll come pick you up wherever you are, whenever you’re ready to leave Karl.” Mark’s parting words sound sweet. Is he serious?

Mark and Liesbet

That night, I lie awake, heart racing. By morning, it’s time to pack up the camper and leave.

I exchange glances with Karl. His eyes beam with excitement about continuing our adventures; mine reflect trouble and sadness.

I take the plunge.

“I can’t be with you anymore. My attraction to Mark has grown too strong.” I sound more determined than I feel.

Shock.

Karl stares at me with intent. “We’re driving to Mexico. We both looked forward to this.”

Silence.

Did he not notice my enthusiasm to continue our overland journey had diminished these last weeks?

I swallow hard.

Can I really give all this up? Our past explorations on the road? The year and a half before that, where he tried so hard to fit into my Belgian life? How about my American visa that will run out if I don’t leave the country soon?

The consequences of my impulsiveness finally trigger some brain activity.

Karl continues, “I love you. Caesar and I will miss you so much.”

We both cry. Three years together is not nothing. I think about the good times we shared. Karl and his dog – and me, too – had been ecstatic when I showed up at his Maryland apartment, ready to roam North America. That was the summer of 2003. I had thrown a goodbye party at my parents’ house in Belgium and hopped on a plane. Little did I know I was never to return.

I remain quiet. My heart bleeds for him. Karl is a sensitive man who understands me and cares about me. We have the same passion: traveling the world on a budget. Yet, I crave more romance in a relationship…

Am I seriously giving up my travels for a man?

That would be a first. It’s usually the other way around. My gut knows how this predicament will end. My mind has nothing to add.

I face Karl and finally utter, “If I leave with you, I will want to come back here at some point.” It is the only conclusion I can muster.

I have fallen in love with another guy, the “guy next door.”

Mark with Kali and Darwin

“If that’s what you want,” Karl replies with a sigh, “then you should just stay.”

In the hours that follow we split the money from our communal account; I gather my belongings; and we discuss a contingency plan for the truck camper. I pet Caesar goodbye and give Karl one last, heartfelt embrace. Then, misty-eyed, I watch them drive away.

I close the door of Mark’s apartment behind me. Unlike other times when Karl and I returned his dogs after walking them with Caesar – today, I don’t leave.

My pile of clothes and gear clutters the corner of the bedroom. I settle on the bed with Kali and Darwin. My tears soak their fur within minutes. Mark has found his Belgian girl without having to travel; she appeared right on his doorstep. He probably thought he’d never see her again. Surprise!

Liesbet and Darwin

What will he say when he comes home from work?

What if he doesn’t want me here?

As usual, I don’t have a back-up plan.The rest of the afternoon, I cry. I feel bad for Karl.

I’m such a selfish bitch.

The front door opens. The dogs jump up and run towards their human. I stay behind in the bedroom.

“Hi, guys,” Mark greets Kali and Darwin with a sad voice. “I guess they’re gone, huh? You two don’t seem too excited to see me. What’s up?”

I walk into the hallway. My eyes sting.

Mark looks up.

“What the hell are you doing here?” His words crush me. I shuffle towards him. We hug. I don’t want to let go.

“I’m staying with you,” I whisper, as if he doesn’t have any say in this. Mark’s face relaxes into a smile. His grip tightens. I guess that means it’s okay.

***

Writer & Blogger Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally.

Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting.

Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her adventures at www.itsirie.com and www.roamingabout.com.

Connect With Liesbet

Facebook

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Twitter

Blog: Roaming About

Blog: It’s Irie

Amazon

Liesbet’s true story is taken from her new book, Plunge.

Book cover for Plunge by Liesbet Collaert
Plunge

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?

Information/Purchase links

Buy on Amazon

For eBook versions worldwide

For paperback distributors worldwide

Reviews

My thanks to Liesbet for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Liesbet, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

More true stories…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How To Completely Change Your Birthday

What would you say to me if I told you that I disliked receiving gifts? I’m not talking about all gifts. I’m talking about the ones I consider to be a waste of money because they render as useless.

How To Completely Change Your Birthday

I think we’ve all had gifts we received for Christmas and birthdays and seen them as a waste of money. But before you start thinking how ungrateful I sound, hear me out, because I’ve had an idea which I hope many of you will join in with me.

Nobody likes wasting money, do they?

No! Especially when they’re on a tight budget.

What saddens me most is witnessing people spending money on unwanted gifts because they feel they have to buy you something. With so many people less fortunate in the world, wouldn’t that money be better spent helping those most in need?

For years, I’ve donated some of the unwanted gifts I’ve received to charity shops. Unfortunately, because of lockdown, some charity shops are no longer able to take donations because they’ve nowhere to store new stock.

So, how do you ask people politely to stop wasting their money on Christmas and birthday gifts you didn’t request?

Have you encountered this situation?

A few months, weeks, days, hours, minutes before your birthday or Christmas, you hear the words ‘What would you like for Christmas/ your birthday?‘ Because I loath replying or hearing the phrase ‘I don’t know,’ I alway have a list ready. However, I still don’t always get the items on my list and sometimes end up with something I’ll never use or which has me scratching my head as to why it was purchased.

I’m lucky. But you may not be as fortunate as me.

I’ve always been one of those people that if they like something, buys it. It hasn’t always been like that. Like many, I’d have to save up to buy some of those items. And as somebody who dislikes being fussed over, buying what I want when I need it works perfectly for me.

However, as I’ve grown older, I find it problematic telling people what I want for Christmas or my birthday.

Allow me, therefore, to reveal the idea at the beginning of this post, which solves my dilemma and will change your next birthday (if you join me in this challenge).

Get writing or asking.

I wrote an email to my family members asking them not to buy me birthday presents. Instead, I asked them to choose a charity and donate the money to them.

Some family members didn’t like this idea, saying I had to have something, while some said they’d instead give me money to donate to a charity of my choice.

But that wasn’t what I was asking them to do!

I kindly asked them to donate the money that they would spend on me to a charity of their choice. That way, I’d feel great about money going to be spent on me, instead going to charity. I hoped it would make them feel great for donating to a charity of their choice. After all, we all feel good when donating to charity, don’t we? I saw it as a win-win situation.

Don’t allow people to knock your idea back.

Although my idea didn’t seem to go down well initially, I did get my way.

My family got together and money earmarked for my birthday presents has been donated to the Llanhilleth Miners’ Institute Covid Response Food Pantry. Here are the details.

The Llanhilleth Miners’ Institute Covid Response Food Pantry

So not only will the donations help in setting this new charity up, it will also help with some of the costs to run the programme. That makes me feel so good.

I realise that not everyone will want the money spent on their birthday presents donated. So even if it’s just the money for one present, think of all the good it will do if some of you ask for birthday money to be donated to a charity.

When your next birthday comes around, think about asking at least one person to donate the money they would have spent on you, to a charity of their choice. Just think of all the good you’ll both be doing in helping those less fortunate than you. Not only that, but I guarantee it will make you both feel great too.

How to completely change your birthday.

If you want to completely change your birthday (or Christmas 2021), ask everyone who buys you a birthday and/or Christmas present to donate the money they’d spend on your gifts to a charity of their choice. That’s what I’ll be doing in December 2021.

Will you take up my Birthday challenge? How would you feel if somebody asked you to donate the money you would have spent on a birthday or Christmas gift to a charity? Let me know by leaving me a comment and join the discussion.

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What To Do With New Year’s Resolutions

Why do so many of us make New Year’s resolutions? Do they help? Are they a pain? Do they put pressure on us? Do they stress us out? Do they work? Do they give us something to look forward to?

What to do with New Year’s Resolutions

The only resolution I made on New Year’s Day (which worked for me), was the one I made on January 1st 1994. It was the day I told myself to stop adding sugar to tea and coffee. I’m still ‘sugar-total’ when it comes to drinking tea and coffee. Success!

If you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions, then good luck with them. If, like me, you haven’t, grab the nearest calendar and count how many days there are on it.

Why am I asking you to count the days on a calendar? There’s a good reason.

Did you count 365 days? Yes? 366, if you’re looking at a 2020 calendar. Ditch that old calendar, and get yourself one for this year. Look at all those days on it.

Every one of those days is a day of new beginnings. Every day is a day to start something different. Every day is a day opportunities will come knocking. Every day is a day to set yourself a resolution (if you want to). Every day is a day you can make good use of. Every day is a day you can make somebody smile. Every day is a day you can do something good for somebody else. Don’t waste them.

What am I getting at?

Simply put, you can start a resolution on any day of the year. I’ve had more successes with resolutions I started on days other than New Year’s Day. But that makes a lot of sense when it’s 364 days against one day. And isn’t every new day the beginning of a new year in your life? Check out Erika’s post. I think she agrees with me.

Thank you.

There is something I enjoy doing every new year. I look back and thank those who shaped my life over the previous 12 months. And those include the people I never met, but who in some way influenced my life.

As a blogger, I’m talking about those who visited my blog, read and joined in with the discussions on the posts I wrote and photos I shared.

If you’re not a blogger, then the people you will have been in touch with on social media may have influenced your life in some way. Think about it. You don’t have to hear words from somebody for them to influence your life. And you don’t need to physically meet someone for them to have an influence on your life.

If it weren’t for all of you out there, the last 12 months would have been a little quiet and emptier here on my blog. And I don’t believe that’s something any blogger wants for their blog.

So, a big thank you for all your support, kindness, friendship, and for being a big part of my 2020. You listened to me; you made me cry. You astounded me; you made me think. You made me change my life or persuaded me to try out something new. You entertained me; you helped me through the low points and you encouraged me over the high points. You influenced me.

What was 2020 like for you? Think hard before you answer that question.

2020 may have seemed a horrible and strange year for many of us, but it will have given us opportunities and some nice bits too.

For me, one of the most significant opportunities was an invitation to become a guest columnist at the Carrot Ranch, a blog hosted by Charli Mills. I may already know some of the Carrot Ranch writers, but an invitation to write for another blog is an opportunity I am incredibly thankful to have come my way in 2020.

Another significant opportunity 2020 gave me was to sort out and donate stuff to my local charity shops. ‘Lockdown’ allowed me to declutter my home and pass on items I no longer needed. Those expired items not only went on to generate money for good causes but were brought back to life by their new owners. I like to think that the happiness those items once gave me has now passed on to the new owners.

2020 may be gone, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Why? Elouise tells us why. Read her post here and read the comments on the post too.

Thank you 2020.

Thank you 2020 for the opportunities you presented to me. You may think you did a good job at hiding them from me, but they were there when I looked hard enough.

Now, I’m looking forward to the opportunities 2021 will bring.

Abba – Happy New Year

What to do with New Year’s Resolutions

My answer – Turn them into opportunities. Opportunities to make new friends, new acquaintances, new experiences. Make people laugh, make people happy, teach people something new, tell somebody something that will make them smile. Don’t turn your resolutions into opportunities that become barriers or hurdles for you or anyone else or that make people unhappy. Make people laugh, make people smile.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.

We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde

Which ones are you going to be in 2021?

New Year 2021

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Have you had any success or failures with them? What opportunities did 2020 give you? What answer would you give to the title of this blog post? Leave me a comment and join the discussion.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

The Dilemmas Of Christmas Cards

If receiving Christmas cards was a hobby, it would be a hobby I’d embrace and never let go.  

I’ve always preferred receiving Christmas cards to birthday cards. They’ve always been more important to me, but over the years have caused me a few dilemmas. Do you recognise any of these?

How to display Christmas cards

My parents always strung up Christmas cards along the longest wall in our lounge. I’d stand underneath the line and happily count them. And if any of the cards overlapped, I’d make it known so that they could be adjusted. 

I wanted every Christmas card to give the same pleasure to visitors as I got out of them over the festive period.

These days, we display cards on a card rack. The overlapping doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to. However, I seem to give priority to those cards I see as more festive.

How do you display Christmas cards?

School Days

During my early schooling years, my class would send Christmas cards to each other. Back then, Christmas cards came in different sizes in one box. The first dilemma was trying to match the correct sized envelope to the right card. 

A box of Christmas cards from the 1970s. Image taken from eBay

Usually, you’d end up with a couple of cards that didn’t fit the envelopes you had left or, on rare occasions, have cards left with no envelopes to put them in. 

These days, Christmas cards seem to come in packs and are all the same size, so the dilemma of matching envelopes with cards has gone. 

In class, we’d make a pillar box out of cardboard, cotton wool, paints and some sticky-back plastic. We were all encouraged to post Christmas cards into the box, and on the last day before the Christmas holidays, our teacher would sort them and distribute them out. 

I’d always be super excited to get a pile of cards with my name proudly written on the front of the envelopes. I’d open them all before rushing home to hang them up with the rest of the cards. 

If there wasn’t enough room on the line, I had to wait patiently for my father to put up another line. Sometimes, this could take days to do, and I’d get very frustrated that my cards were not on display.

And heaven’s forbid if any of the lines of cards came down because of the sheer weight of cards on them. I’d be inconsolable. 

After Christmas, I’d keep the cards I liked the most and make gift tags out of them for the following Christmas.

Did you send Christmas cards to your classmates?

The First Christmas Card

The first Christmas card was sent in 1843. Back then, there were no signs of robins, snow, Christmas stockings or Father Christmas on them. Most cards showed people drinking, eating and being merry.

It wasn’t until the 1870s that Christmas cards began to display some of the festive images we see today.

  

A Victorian Christmas card. Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay

Back in the 1970s (when I was sending cards to those in my class), there were certain cards I loved. These include the ones I thought were associated with Christmas. Those showing scenes that included Father Christmas, Christmas stockings, robins, snow, and Christmas trees were my favourites. 

And then there were cards I didn’t particularly like because I thought they had nothing to do with Christmas. These included ones with scenes of horse-drawn carriages, fox hunting, St Paul’s Cathedral, or a hand-drawn poinsettia. 

My favourite classmates always got the cards I associated with Christmas. The classmates I didn’t bother with much (or those I didn’t like) got the boring ones. Back then, you could always tell who didn’t like you much from the type of card they sent you (or so I thought, anyway).

Christmas Postcards 

Step back to the early part of the 20th century, and some Christmas cards were like postcards. Many years ago, I picked up some on eBay. This one is my favourite. 

An Old Maid’s Christmas
On the back.

Postmarked Dec 24th 1912, I love the humour on this postcard, although I’m not sure it would go down well these days. What do you think?

I can’t make out the postmark on this postcard, but the stamp on it tells me it’s from the U.S.A. 

Christmas postcard from the early 20th century
Christmas postcard from the early 20th century

And here’s another early one from the U.S.A, postmarked Dec 23rd 1913.

Christmas postcard dated 23rd December 1913
Christmas postcard dated 23rd December 1913

Postal addresses were so short back then.

Fast-track to the 1980s and Christmas cards were very different. Here are a few of my favourites.

Yes, I have a scrapbook that includes some of my favourite Christmas cards.

The Boyfriend Dilemma

Finally, here’s a Christmas card from 1988 that was sent to me by my then boyfriend.

 

Christmas 1988
Last Christmas I gave you my heart. By New Year’s Day I’d taken it away!

Unfortunately, he went on to break my heart on New Year’s Eve, yet I kept the Christmas card he sent me. I wonder why?

Do you send and enjoy receiving Christmas cards? Have you ever had any dilemmas with them?

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

True Stories: Gay Memories – The Day My Life Changed #LGBTQI #LGBT

When I woke up that Saturday morning, little did I know that something I was hiding from view from others was about to have the key put in the ignition and set me off on a journey that was to become the life I was born with.

True Stories: Gay Memories

It was a Saturday morning like any other Saturday morning. I always got up first because I’m an early bird.

After breakfast, I’d sit down and watch Multi-Coloured Swap Shop – a Saturday morning children’s TV show.

The theme to Swap Shop

The fact that I was 17-years-old didn’t put me off from watching it. I loved watching it. It got my weekend off to a perfect start.

Just after midday, I always made my way into town to buy an array of snacks for myself for the evening. Like Saturday mornings, I still preferred to spend Saturday evenings indoors watching television.

My parents thought it unusual for a boy of my age to want to stay in on a Saturday evening. At the time, I thought they knew nothing about the reason for me not wanting to go out. Years later, I discovered my mother had already suspected I was gay.

Whereas boys my age were going out to drink alcohol and date girls, my Saturday evening treat was the snacks (including a small trifle from Marks & Spencer) and Saturday evening television.

I always visited the same shops, either to browse or to buy something. On this particular Saturday, though, something I’d seen on TV that morning made me go into a shop I hardly ever visited.

Chaz and Dave

Scanning the shelves full of newspapers and magazines for the music newspaper I wanted, it soon caught my eye.

On the front was a picture of the singing duo Chas and Dave. I didn’t particularly like their music, but I found both men sexually attractive.

Picking up the newspaper, I flicked through it, pretending not to notice the picture and taking little if any notice of who was around me.

Towards the back of the newspaper, I stumbled upon the advertisement section, and one of the adverts immediately got my attention.

It was a significant point in my life which opened up a door and invited me to step through.

I didn’t personally know any other gay people, yet here was an advert in a music newspaper about a world I belonged to yet knew little of.

Gay?
Then you should read Gay News.
Once fortnightly.
For a copy, send a postal order for (I can’t remember how much) to –

At that moment, a member of staff entered the shop and shouted over to the cashier –

“I see the library is open again, Karen.”

She was referring to me and a few other customers who were all flicking through various newspapers and magazines. I quickly closed the paper and checked around to see if anybody had noticed me reading the advert.

At that point, I wanted to put down the paper and rush out of the shop, but the chance of being in touch with other gay people stopped me from doing so.

I told myself to be brave and quickly walked over to Karen, and nervously placed the newspaper by the cash register. “Got everything you need today?” she asked me as she pushed the keys on the cash register.

Nodding my head, I could feel myself blushing. I thought she knew which advert I’d been reading and was about to stand up and announce ‘This one’s queer!” Of course, that never happened.

As I walked home, my heartbeat raced. I kept looking behind to check if anyone was following me. After all, unlike my straight friends, it was still illegal for me (as a gay man) to have sex with a same-sex partner until I was 21.

Precisely one week later, I waited patiently for the postman to arrive. As soon as my first copy of Gay News came through the letterbox, I rushed downstairs before anybody else got to the post.

I was relieved that the people at Gay News did as they had promised to do in their advertisement. My copy of the paper arrived in a plain brown envelope.

My hands shook as I took the envelope up to my bedroom. Carefully tearing it open, I allowed the life I’d been hiding to start coming out of the closet.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.

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True Stories: Gay Memories – First Date – Memories From Gay London During the 1980s #LGBTQI #LGBT

Have you ever had one of those life experiences that renders you utterly speechless? Read on and let me know if anything I’m about to tell you leaves you as astonished as it did when it happened to me. 

Pride Month: First Date

Picture it – Earl’s Court, London, 1988, the height of the summer, and me working as a part-time barman in one of the coolest gay bars in the city.

In the bar, the biggest catch in town. And it seemed he had his eyes on me. He’d been showing some interest in me for weeks, or so I thought.

Sometimes, when I caught him looking at me, I’d blush so much that my face resembled a sun-dried tomato. At the same time, my heart would skip a few beats while the butterflies in my stomach felt like they were rioting.

Neville, my best friend, made a bet with me that if ‘catch’ (as we’d nicknamed him) asked me out on a date, he’d do all my washing for the rest of the year. How could I decline a bet like that?    

At six-foot-tall, mid-thirties, with a stocky build, short dark hair, moustache, piercing brown eyes, and always wearing the tightest of Levi 501 jeans, it wasn’t my washing that needed a cold wash. It was me!

He was what I called a ‘man’s man’, and nobody would have ever guessed that he was gay had they seen him walking down the street or standing on the terraces at Stamford Bridge

Nobody knew much about him. Not even his name.

He always stood on his own, and nobody ever approached him. He ordered one drink that lasted the whole evening and always left the bar on his own.

I didn’t want to make the first move. I hated rejection, but the prospect of having my washing done for the rest of the year was tempting.

The other barmen had noticed that ‘Catch’ was giving me a little too much attention. Make the first move, they told me, but I couldn’t.

Then, in the early hours of an unusually warm and humid Sunday morning, having just finished my shift, I left the bar and started to make the short trip home.

“Hi” came a deep voice from behind me. “I’ve been watching you for weeks and wondered if you fancied coming back to my place for a coffee?”

As I span around, the butterflies in my stomach rioted again as my eyes were met by ‘Catch’ smiling at me. For some reason, it took what seemed like ages for me to accept his invitation.

Jumping into a taxi with him, I felt as if I was floating on cloud nine. We sat silent like two lovebirds, just looking into each others eyes.

As soon we reached his apartment, I’d hardly given ‘Catch’ time to close the front door before grabbing him and forcing him to do some tongue dancing with me.

What happened after the tongue dancing didn’t seem to last long, but neither of us seemed to care very much. There was still time for rounds two, three and four. 

I had the feeling that he was the one and that we’d be doing lots more of what had just happened, only at a much slower pace.

“Would you like a beer, Peachy?” were his first words to me since we got to his apartment. Peachy? Was he talking to me? Well, that’s another story, but the cold beers helped cool us down while we continued to look into each others eyes. 

After rounds two and three, we were both exhausted, and he asked if I wanted to stay the rest of the night.

As much as I wanted to stay, I had to get home because I couldn’t wait to see Neville and tell him what had happened.

While quickly freshening myself up, ‘Catch’ made us some coffee.

Grabbing my clothes and walking to the kitchen (because I didn’t want to miss another second of being with him), I realised I still didn’t know ‘Catch’s’ real name. Should I ask, or should I wait until he asked me for mine? After all, he couldn’t know me as ‘Peachy’ when we went on our first proper date. 

Having convinced myself that it wasn’t me doing the chasing in this relationship, I decided to wait until he introduced himself to me.

While the coffee went cold, our tongues had another long dance.

“Would you like to make this a regular thing?” ‘Catch’ asked me, as he came up for some air. 

I had a fleeting vision of Neville doing my washing, so didn’t take long to respond. 

“What? You bet!”

“Good, I was hoping you’d say that.” 

After a little more tongue dancing, it was time for us to part and ‘Catch’ escorted me to the front door. 

However, suddenly stoping, ‘Catch’ told me to wait, and off he wandered (while muttering something about having forgotten something). I watched as the man of my dreams disappeared back into the bedroom. Surly not round five, I thought.

With my heart playing the drums in my chest, I was positive I could feel those first dewdrops of love welling up inside of me. He was probably writing down his phone number for me.  

Then it all started to go wrong. Very wrong!

I couldn’t take my eyes off ‘Catch’ as he walked towards me. “Here you go,” he said, thrusting a wad of ten-pound notes into my hand. “You forgot to ask for your fee. I’ve deducted a little for the beer and coffee you had.”

Shocked, my jaw hit the floor, and for the first time in my life, I was speechless; completely speechless! And, before you ask, no, not because he’d made a deduction for beer and coffee.

‘Catch’ had mistaken me for a rent-boy. 

Still openmouthed and unable to speak, I walked out, turned around and, as ‘Catch’ closed the front door, heard him say he’d recommend me to anyone looking for the same kind of fun.


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True Stories: Gay Memories – Gay London During The 1980s #LGBTQI #LGBT #PrideMonth

“They all have moustaches, wear 501s and are called Clones.”

Those were my words to my best friend, Neville, upon my first visit to Earl’s Court, London, back in the mid-1980s.

I was like a kid in a sweet shop. Just about every man in the place had a moustache, and I was big into facial hair.

Gay life in London during the 1980s

Back then, there were five gay bars in Earl’s Court. It was the centre of the universe for any gay man visiting London.

It was easy to get to Earl’s Court, via public transport, and I always felt safe there. It was as if the district had a safety bubble around it.

No surprise then that I moved into a two-bedroom flat in Earl’s Court shortly after arriving to live in London in 1986.

The most famous gay bar in Earl’s Court was called ‘The Coleherne.’ These days, it’s a trendy restaurant come wine bar which I believe serves some smashing food.

The Coleherne – now known as The Pembroke

I spent lots of time in ‘The Coleherne.’ At the time, pubs had to close their doors between 3 and 5:30pm (2 and 7pm on a Sunday). ‘The Coleherne’ was always packed out during the final hour of drinking time.

It had a jukebox in the corner that played all the latest hits as well as many ‘Hi-NRG’ (Pronounced High Energy) tunes which was a new type of music adopted by many gay men.

Evelyn Thomas – Singing some Hi-NRG music

Neville was into the same types of men who drunk in “The Coleherne’ as me. So you’d often find us in there.

There was a strict rule about going into ‘The Coleherne.’ Those wearing leather, such as a bikers’ jacket, waistcoat, or chaps, had their own side-door entrance.

Everybody else had to use the other door on the main street. If you went through what Neville and I called ‘the leather door’ you’d end up on the leather side of the bar.

The leather guys would glare at you if your attire included no leather, and they would continue to glare at you until you made your way to the non-leather side of the bar.

Scary stuff for first-time visitors or anybody who entered the pub by mistake.

What made Neville and me laugh was that some of the leather guys often arrived carrying a motorcycle helmet under their arm. You may ask, ‘what’s so funny about that?’

Well, they’d place the motorcycle helmet on the top shelf above the bar, order their drink, and then stand around looking as butch as possible.

Then, at closing time, Neville and I would watch as they made their way to the bus-stop, with motorcycle helmets under their arms. For some, carrying a motorcycle helmet seemed to be the must-have, new fashion accessory when dressed in leather.

Although ‘The Coleherne’ was probably the most shabby of all the five gay bars in Earl’s Court, it was always busy.

Just down the road, at one end of the street, was ‘The Boltons.’ This was a strict ‘no-no’ bar for Neville and I because it was known for its rent boys.

At the other end of the street was ‘Bromptons’ bar. This was the place Neville and me nicknamed ‘Clone City’ because just about every man who entered had facial hair.

‘Bromptons’ opened at 10pm and closed at 2am. On a Sunday, it opened earlier but closed at midnight. It was a 30-second walk from where I lived, so it was very convenient.

Friendlier than ‘The Coleherne,’ for those who’d never visited before, ‘Bromptons’ had a small dance floor and a kiosk that sold all the latest Hi-NRG 12-inch vinyl singles.

In those days, gay men only purchased 12-inch vinyl singles, unlike most of the rest of the population that bought the 7-inch vinyl version.

A gay anthem from the 1980s

There was the odd splattering of leather amongst the crowd, but most were dressed in check shirts, 501 Jeans and Doc-Marten boots.

Just about everyone ordered and drunk bottles of lager, rather than pints. If you arrived early, you could compare your check shirts and see if any of them clashed severely with the chequered carpet and wallpaper of the bar.

Arriving early also meant free entry into the bar. After 11pm there was a small entry fee charged, so many would flock in at 22:55.

The Barmen at ‘Bromptons’ were often hand-picked by the owner. “Have good looking bar staff, and you’ll pack the place out every night,” he once told me. And he was right!

Gay London barman of the 1980s.

The place was a magnet for clones who seemed to need little sleep despite having full-time jobs, many of which required an early morning start.

The other two bars at the opposite end of Earl’s Court were located next door to each other.

One was a bar called ‘Harpoon Louis,’ which hosted cabaret most nights.

The likes of Lily Savage (aka Paul O’Grady) started out here, and it was always a great place to go for a laugh.

‘Cruising’, as Gay men called it (better known as looking for a partner for the night), did go on. In contrast, in the other bars, cruising was very serious, and you dare not laugh when trying to pick up your date for the night. In ‘Harpoon Louis,’ it didn’t seem to matter as much.

‘Copacabana’ was next door to Harpoon Louis and was the main gay nightclub of the area. It was convenient to fall into when coming out of ‘Harpoon Louis.’

‘Copacabana’ (also known as ‘Copa’s’) was the biggest of all the bars in Earl’s Court and had a large dance floor. It was the place to hear the latest Hi-NRG tunes, dance, drink and check out the men.

Some famous faces often frequented the place, but being ‘gay men,’ the clientele often dare not approach them.

During the 1980s, gay men adopted a ‘hanky’ code. You’d place a particular coloured handkerchief in either the left or right back pocket of your 501 jeans. This told other gay men what kind of sexual fun you were into.

Rather than the ‘hanky’ code, Neville and I adopted the ‘teddy bear’ code. This involved the placing of a small teddy bear in the back pocket. This told others if you enjoyed giving or receiving cuddles.

Today, Earl’s Court is no longer the centre of the universe for gay men. Its crown was lost to Soho and Vauxhall during the late 1990s, although the gay scene in London now seems to be more spread out.

Image credit: Geoff Le Pard

Had we arrived for the first time today, Neville and I would not have liked Earls Court as much. However, it holds lots of happy memories not just for us, but for many from the LGBT crowd.

Sadly, Neville passed away in the mid-1990s. However, the fun and laughter we shared together during the days and nights of Earl’s Court in the 1980s can still be heard in its bars and streets.


This post was originally written and published as a guest post in April 2016 on TanGental. It has been updated for this version.

Click here to read another post from my Pride Month series which tells the story of a first date that went horribly wrong.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Have You Lost Your Desire To Write?

I’ve witnessed many people saying that they seem to have lost their writing mojo since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Likewise, it happened to me. 

I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t feel in the mood to write any forms of specific creativity. 

I couldn’t even bring myself to look at any of the drafts I had for new short stories, or even the two books I have in my computer’s archives. 

My desire to delve into them had taken a vacation that had no end date.

I had no idea why it was happening. Then I put something to the test. 

Like many, I’d found myself reading blog posts that had a ‘doom and gloom’ theme to them. 

The majority of those posts, of course, were COVID-19 related. 

However, since cutting down on the number of COVID-19 blogs posts I read, my writing mojo seems to occasionally show signs of returning.

I can sometimes see it waving at me before disappearing again. I was never any good at ‘hide & seek.’ I was always the first one to be found and could never find anybody.

When my writing mojo does appear, I do all I can to grab it by the horns and get writing. 

Writing something – anything – makes me feel good. In fact, it makes my day!

This led me to seek out more and more blog posts that contain positivity, laughter, humour and good news. Yes, despite what’s going on in today’s world, those happy blog posts are still out there.

Of course, not all COVID-19 related blog posts are full of doom and gloom. Some contain humour, so I haven’t cut myself entirely off from what’s going on in the world. I’ve even written a few myself, but so have many others. 

Yes, there is a COVID-19 connection in her post, but the video has made many readers smile and laugh. Thank you Willow, for giving me and many visitors to your blog a lift, and making our day with the video you shared. 

Then there are simple blog posts like the one from Elizabeth, at Tea & Pepper, which features a photo of something that brings joy to her moments of solitude. Her blog post made me smile and confirm to myself that everything will be OK. Click here to view Elizabeth’s post.

Social Media joins in with the humour

We mustn’t forget social media. It’s also playing its part in taking a bad situation and turning it into something that will make some of us smile.

Is now the perfect time to write?

You’d think that this moment in time would be perfect for writers and authors to get on with writing and editing their works-in-progress, especially given that many of us find ourselves at home. Yet, many have no urge to delve in and bring those pieces of fiction and creativity to life.

In a recent comment, I left on the blog of Cher Garman (The Chicago Files), I compared my current life to that of starting a new chapter in a book; a chapter in which I didn’t want to feature. Here’s what I said –

I look at the current situation we’re in as a chapter in a book, Cher. I’ll get to the end of that chapter soon, and a new one will begin. And, best of all, these chapters are a pathway to a happy ending.

The comment got me thinking, and I started to wonder if what is happening in the world today is only happening to me? 

  • Am I witnessing something that is a warning to only me? 
  • Are all of you out there just figures of my imagination?
  • Am I just a figure of your imagination? 
  • Are you watching a sci-fi movie of which I am the leading role?
#DoctorWho #television #scifi
  • Did I wake up one morning not realising that I had crossed over into a parallel universe?
  • Have we been put to sleep, and what is happening is a dream/nightmare we’re all experiencing at the same time?
  • Have I become the victim of one of my short stories because of all the scares they’ve given readers?

My creative desire to write may have hit a dead-end, but it seems my imagination is still in overdrive.

Thankfully, for me, it was only certain forms of writing I found myself struggling with. 

I’ve managed to continue to write and publish the weekly episodes featuring newlyweds Doug, Sophie and their friend Mike. And I’ve had no problems with posting my Wordless Wednesday featured photos.

A few weeks ago, I also started a new feature, The Entertainment Files, but all of these required only small amounts of writing. But, little steps lead to big success, don’t they?

After reading a blog post from Esther Chilton, I got those little steps moving and joined in with her request to write a limerick. What great fun that was, especially reading the limericks from other participants.

There was a young actress called Sheila

Who drove her friends mad with her new feature

A strange ring through her nose

As big as her big toes

Made her look like an outa space creature.

Hugh W. Roberts – 2020

Laughter is a medicine we all need at the moment.

Something else that also happened was that by way of a comment, I heard from another blogger who told me how they were trying to spread some positivity.

What a great idea in helping some individual bloggers move away from blogging about COVID-19 by challenging them to write something positive instead.

I may decide to challenge some of you, so watch out for some pingback notifications from me.

Do you still want blogging tips from me?

I’ve wondered if during these uncertain times if anybody wants to continue to read blogging and social media tips. Given I’ve had little appetite for reading any, is this something people still want to read on my blog?

Please let me know by leaving me a comment.

  • Are any of you finding that there has been a decline in engagement on your blogs since the COVID-19 pandemic began? 
  • Have the number of comments you usually get decreased in number or have the comments become shorter? 
  • Have you noticed a change in the writing styles and subjects from bloggers who typically write and publish about specific genres? 
  • Are you carrying on as usual and writing and publishing the same stuff you always do? 
  • Have you noticed other bloggers doing the same?  

It’s a strange world out there, but as I look out of the window, nature doesn’t seem to have stopped. There may be a lack of people, traffic and life outside, but everything else looks the same.  

Some believe that COVID-19 will change the way we all live our lives in the future. I wonder if it will also change the way many of us write? Or are these changes already happening? What do you think?

Just before publishing this post, I read an interesting blog post by Anne R. Allen which goes into much more detail as to why many writers are finding it tough to write at the moment. Anne gives some excellent advice on how to beat the slump. Click here to read her post.

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